Observatoire politique de l’Amérique latine et des Caraïbes de Sciences Po

Amérique latine - L’Année politique is a publication by CERI-Sciences Po’s Political Observatory of Latin America and the Caribbean (OPALC). The study extends the work presented on the Observatory’s website (www.sciencespo.fr/opalc) by offering tools for understanding a continent that is in the grip of deep transformations.

Business and politics in India have been closely connected since the colonial era, when entrepreneurs financed politicians who, in exchange, spared them some of the bureaucratic red tape. This proximity has endured after independence, even if Nehru’s official socialism subjected it to some constraints. Far from mitigating corruption, economic liberalization during the 1990s actually amplified it when large investors, attracted by the opening of the Indian market, paid huge bribes to political leaders, who often became businessmen themselves and forced public banks to lend to industrialists close to them, while businessmen were elected to Parliament, increasing insider trading. As it is observed in the modern era under Narendra Modi, be it at the national level and in his state of Gujarat, crony capitalism is well illustrated by Modi’s relationship to Gautam Adani, the rising star of Indian business. Crony capitalism has a financial cost (due to the under-taxation of companies and dubious debts on the banks’ balance sheets), a social cost (due to underpaid work and a reduction of the expenditure of education or health for lack of fiscal resources) and the environment (crony capitalists disregarding the most basic standards).

Kevin Parthenay

In Latin America, as elsewhere in the world, regional and subregional organizations have multiplied recently. Scholars tend to focus on the variety of regionalisms or their ever changing nature (post-liberal, post-hegemonic...). This study, through a political sociology of regionalism approach, examines Latin American regions and their actors and goes beyond the first set of questions. In this perspective, scrutinizing the regional General Secretaries of the sub-continent is particularly useful to understand how regional powers emerge. With a specific focus on the Southern Common Market (UNSUR), the Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR), the Andean Community of Nations (CAN) and the Central American Integration System (SICA), this research offers a more precise answer to the question of the configuration of power within Latin American regionalisms.

Elections have been trivialized in Iran. They allow for the expression of diversity, in particular ethnical and denominational, of historical regional identities, and prove the growing professionalization of political life. Paradoxically, such professionalization withdraws the Republic away into the levels of family, parenthood, autochthony, and even neighborhoods or devotional sociability, which are all institutions that instill a feeling of proximity, solidarity, communion; close to the notion of asabiyat. As the saying goes, the Islamic Republic has become a « parentocracy » (tâyefehsâlâri). The country’s industrial development isn’t at odds with such ponderousness since it lies on a web of very small family businesses. The analysis of the 2016 legislative elections in four wards reveals how important the issue of property is in political life, indivisible as it is of the various particularistic consciences. The connections with notables are still there, revealing lines of continuity with the old regime as well as longstanding agrarian conflicts that have not been erased by the Revolution and that are being kept alive through contemporary elections.

Laetitia Bucaille

Today, the creation of a Palestinian state appears to be a distant possibility: the international community rejected to manage the issue, and the leadership in these territories weakened because of its divisions, revealing their inability to advance. Both the political and the territorial partition between the Gaza strip, governed by the Hamas and the West Bank, under Palestinian authority in line with Fatah, reveal a profound crisis that questions the very contours of Palestinian politics. It also shows that Hamas’ integration in the political game made it impossible to pursue the security subcontacting system. Maintaining the system avoids reconstructing the Palestinian political community, and makes it difficult to develop a strategy that moves towards sovereignty. Since October 2015, the popular and pacific resistance project has been shelved by the return of the violence against Israeli civilians. The Palestinian leadership counts on internationalization of the cause, which has shown mediocre results. Will the replacement of Mahmoud Abbas by his competitors permit to leave the rut?

Leila Seurat

Yet there is ample literature devoted to the sociology of the police in the western world, little research focuses on Arab countries. This study tries to fill this gap by offering an ethnographic study of Ras Beirut police station, the first and the only police station in Lebanon that has been reformed according to the community policing model. The academic works focusing on the importation of this model in developing countries point out how difficult it is to implement and emphasize its negative outcomes due to the local characteristics of each country. Fragmented on a sectarian and a political ground, Lebanon remains a perfect field to explore this hypothesis. Indeed the divisions of the Lebanese state weaken the interactions between the public and the private security forces. Nevertheless, many others factors, beyond the religious and the political divisions, explain Ras Beirut’s failure. The internal dynamics at work inside the police station and the influence of the patronage networks reduce considerably the chances of its success.